Cheese and Sausage Manicotti


Laskey11-26-8-035My sweet friend came home from the NICU with her twins a little while back.  Her tribe circled the wagons in support and started a food delivery calendar.  My day was last Wednesday,  Cheese and Sausage Manicotti was the delivery. Would you like to see?


To bring out the best in this Manicotti, buy or order the finest cheeses from a cheese shop or Italian deli: fresh ricotta, mild imported provolone, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Here in Southern California we have an Italian Kitchen, Claro’s.  Did you know they have an ONLINE STORE?  They will even ship overnight within the US of A.  Here is where I purchased this mighty large 5lb bag of sweet sausage and the cheese.  A nursing Mommy might not care for the spicy sausage, but if it sounds good to you, by all means use the spicy stuff.


I only needed a few of these sausages (five), the rest I’ll use elsewhere or freeze.


First poke some holes in the sausages to help in their cooking with a knife or fork. Like my Halloween paper plates?


Then chop up half an onion, into a very fine dice.


Add both to a large pan over medium-low heat


with a cover, for about 5 minutes


Grab some white wine, tonight was chardonnay,


and add it to the browned sausage and onions. Increase your heat to medium and cook until the wine evaporates and onion are golden, stirring often, about 5 minutes.


Good. Remove from the heat.


Now enter a 28-ounce can of Italian plum tomatoes with basil.  Again from Claro’s.


Dump your can into a food processor or a blender,


and puree away.  Isn’t that a fabulous shade of red?


Add a touch of crushed red peppers and give it another spin.


Add your sauce to the sausage and onion mixture.


Make sure you hold on tight to that blade if you are using a food processor.


Give those sausages a good bath in the sauce and let those ingredients get to know one another.  For a solid hour or more, to cook that sausage through.


While the sauce cooks, let’s prepare everything else.  Grab your basil,


And give it a chiffonade. (I feel fancy just saying that word). Set the greens aside until later.


Moving  onto the cheese.  I liked this mixture of four cheeses; asiago, fontinella, provolone and parmesan.  If you would like to use something similar, then try  Trader Joes shredded Parmesan along with a hunk of provolone to shred.


Mix your Parmesan, Provolone and Ricotta cheeses together and add some pepper. Set this aside.


Large tube pasta.  I couldn’t find actual Manicotti noodles, they are a bit larger than these.


But these had a good size to them. They would do.


Add them to your pot of salted water gently and stir.


Remove them from the water BEFORE they are done, still somewhat firm to bite, about 3/4 cooked. They still need to have some structure or “bite” to them since they will be cooked in the oven later.


Spread them out on a foil lined baking sheet, covered with olive oil so they won’t stick to one another.


The sausages are looking good.


Remove them from the sauce to cool a bit.  I started cutting them and they were way to hot to handle.  I decided to season the sauce.


Salt and pepper to taste, along with a 1 tsp of sugar.


Don’t forget to add your basil, I almost did.


Let those ingredients hang-out under low heat while you finish things up.


The sausage is a little cooler, cut it up into very small pieces.


Add the sausage pieces to the cheese mixture.  Give it a good stir, then


season with salt and pepper.


Grab your baking dishes and hit them with a little non-stick spray for insurance.


Spoon a bit of the sauce to coat the bottom of the pan,


like so. Now is time to assemble the pasta.


  Take a plastic bag and scoop your cheese and sausage mixture into the corner.  Cut the tip of the bag corner off, close to the size of the pasta noodle, and squeeze the cheese mixture into the pasta tubes.


Like so.


Fill your pan.


Then add your sauce on top.


Finish with a coating of cheese.


Cover this baby up and she is ready to go! ( Yes, I misspelled minutes. I was in a heck-of a hurry) 

Cheese and Sausage Manicotti
  • 12 ounces Italian sweet sausages with fennel seeds
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with basil
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • 2 cups fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese or one 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mild provolone cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 pound manicotti (large tubular pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Pierce each sausage several times with tip of knife. Place sausages in heavy large saucepan; add onion. Cover; cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes. Turn sausages over; stir onion. Cover and continue to cook until sausages release some fat and onion begins to color, about 5 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to medium. Add wine and simmer until wine evaporates and onion is golden, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes with juices and puree in a food processor. Add crushed red pepper. Add to sausages. Simmer very gently over low heat until sauce thickens and reduces to about 2 cups, stirring sauce and turning sausages occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer sausages to plate and cool. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper and 1 tsp. sugar. Add slivered basil and simmer sauce 5 minutes longer.
  3. Place ricotta in medium bowl. Mix in ¾ cup provolone, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, and black pepper. Cut sausages into ¼-inch cubes; stir into cheese mixture. Season filling to taste with salt. (Sauce and filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.)
  4. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until still somewhat firm to bite and about ¾ cooked, about 7 minutes (depending on brand). Using tongs, carefully transfer pasta from pot to foil-lined baking sheet and cool.
  5. Coat the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with non stick cooking spray; spread 3 tablespoons sauce over. Using a modified plastic bag, fill each of tube with cheese-sausage mixture. Arrange stuffed pasta in single layer in prepared dish and spoon remaining sauce over. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature.)
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Parmesan and ¼ cup provolone atop the sauce. Bake uncovered until heated through and sauce is bubbling on bottom of dish, about 20 minutes.
  7. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

Bon Appetito friends



  1. I CANNOT wait to try this one Kathleen. I can get Claro’s delivered to my front door!? They have been bookmarked.

  2. That cheese combo sounds amazing. Can I put this together with lasagna noodles? (btw loved how you missed spelled minute – in a hurry?) 😉

  3. Made this on Wednesday night…beyond delicious, and as all my friends will attest, I am the worst cook in the world, but you made it easy Leen, thank you!

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